DAVIE, Florida – Small greens, water hazards and plenty of South Florida wildlife enhance the Davie Golf Club, a terrific public course here just a few miles west of Fort Lauderdale. But here’s my favorite thing about the 6,347-yard, par 70 layout: In these days of some courses embracing style above substance, Davie Golf Club doesn’t try to be more than it is.
“We’ve been here long enough to understand that there is a market for affordable golf. That’s where we are at,’’ said Patrick O’Fee, the club’s general manager. “There are golf courses in this area on different levels and with all the bells and whistles. We’re not competing them, but there are people who want to play affordable golf, so we’re catering to those people.’’
Indeed. The average tee time at Davie Golf Club is around $30, but consider that your swing doesn’t know a $30 round from a $60 or $100 round. With that in mind, Davie Golf Club provides a fun experience on a course that opened in 1973 as Arrowhead Golf & Tennis Club and later owned by former Miami Dolphins quarterback Earl Morrall. The road that takes you to the club, in fact, is called “Earl Morrall Pass.’’
The course’s original layout was designed by Bill Watts, who designed several courses in South Florida and went on the become team chaplain for the Dolphins.
In December 2008, the course was purchased by the Florida Department of Transportation for a proposed project to expand and improve the drainage of Interstate-595. In order to improve I-595 drainage, it required increasing the number of lakes and digging into the golf course, fairways, greens and rough.
The project basically created a new course that the Town of Davie acquired in 2011. Greenway Golf has managed the property since 2013 and over the past five years has installed Paspalum grass on the fairways and native vegetation around the course’s lakes.
“The vegetation around the lakes replicates the vegetation from the Everglades, which I think enhances the property,’’ O’Fee said. “We don’t have any alligators, but we do have a lot of bird life.’’
The small greens serve as Davie Golf Club’s signatures and its protectors, the latter being because of the length. Four of the par-fours, for example, play less than 390 yards from the tips. The greens, which average between 3,500 square and 4,000 square feet, have as many as three tiers, making for some tough pin placements. On the other hand, the small sizes of the greens allow players to putt from the fringes and still have chances to score.
“The greens make it a challenge, a lot of people have never played greens this undulating in South Florida,’’ O’Fee said. “The front has most of the small greens. When you get to the back, they’re larger, but there’s still some small ones.’’